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Doing Colfax

"You wanna eat?" said Jeffie.

Kin stared out the passenger's window of the big old Chevy at the neon dazzle of Colfax Avenue. "I want to do someone."

"Aw, come on." Jeffie put his free hand on Kin's wrist, let the fingers lie there lightly. "Let's eat. I'm buyin'. Burgers okay?"

Kin started to turn away from the night. "Yeah, burgers are -- hold it. Look at that one."

That one was what looked to be a teenaged girl standing by a bus bench with her thumb out. Short dark hair, shorter suede skirt, defiant stance. She stared directly into the windshield of the Chevy and smiled.

"I want to do her," said Kin.

"Burgers -- " Jeffie protested.

"Her."

Jeffie braked the sedan to a stop. Kin reached back over the seat and unlatched the rear door.

The girl climbed in, set a canvas book-bag down beside her and said, "Hi. Hey, thanks -- I don't think the RTD ever stops here. Not ever."

"How far you headin'?" said Kin.

"As far east as you're going. Anywhere on Colfax. I live out in Aurora."

"We're going that far," Kin said.

"That's really great," said the girl. She leaned forward, forearms on the seat divider. "You guys got names?"

They told her. Neither asked the girl her name. She told them anyway. Neither Kin nor Jeffie remembered it.

The Chevy cruised along through the night. Jeffie scrupulously obeying each speed sign. He ran no yellow lights. The girl told them about night school at Auraria. She was going to be a psychiatric social worker, or maybe just a psychologist. She had a part-time job at Burger King. Jeffie perked up briefly when he heard that. The girl talked and talked, and finally they crossed under I-225. Though there were still plenty of lights, Jeffie sensed that the eastern plains lay close ahead. Nebraska. Kansas. He felt the oppressive freedom of all that space.

"Anywhere along here," said the girl. She started to arrange her canvas bag.

"Naw," said Kin, and then he was over the seat and in back with her.

"What are you -- " she started to say. Kin slapped her hard across the jaw and her head fetched up solid against the window on Jeffie's side. The driver's shoulders hunched when he heard that meaty sound.

"She's just out," said Kin. He extracted a length of coarse baling twine from under the seat ahead, let the girl's body slump over his lap, twisted her arms behind her, and bound the wrists tight. He set her upright again, wedged back into the corner between seat and window.

"Jesus, I'm starved," said Jeffie.

Kin said, "You just keep driving." While he waited for her to wake up, he explored the girl's body with his hands. His fingers went up her skirt and rolled the dark pantyhose down off her hips and legs, and finally off her feet after he pulled her flats loose. "It's her time of month," he said, grimacing. "Guess nothing's goin' right for her."

The girl screamed. Startled, Kin jerked upright and cracked his head against her chin. He muttered something and slapped her again, but this time not as hard as before. "Listen," he said.

"Hey, listen to me." The girl stared at him and listened. Kin picked something up off the car floor and showed it to her. "Know what this is?"

She shook her head.

"It's a tennis ball, dummy. I don't want you to scream. And I don't want to hit you again. If you keep on yellin' like that, I'm gonna have to put this in your mouth and keep it in there with some tape. You understand?"

Her eyes widened, but she didn't say anything at all. And she didn't scream. Her eyes looked like they were all wide, dark pupil.

"If I have to do that," said Kin, "then maybe too I'll go on and pinch your nose shut, or maybe tape it altogether. You know what'll happen then?"

She slowly nodded, eyes fixed on his.

"Okay," said Kin. He started touching her again. The girl struggled against him, but almost silently. Little whimpers came out.

"How you gonna do her?" said Jeffie.

Kin looked thoughtful.

The girl briefly stopped struggling. Her eyes glistened with tears, but she seemed to pull herself together visibly. She said, "Do me?"

The two men stared back at her.

"Listen, you bastards. You're going to kill me, say it. Don't talk like I'm not really here." She paused. "I'm here. I'm real."

They didn't say anything.

"You're not going to do me -- you're going to kill me."

Jeffie and Kin stared at each other in the rearview.

After a long pause, Jeffie said again, "How you gonna do her?"

"This way," said Kin. "Best I know how." He used the pantyhose he had tugged off the girl earlier. She struggled silently, as though using all her strength to twist away from him. Somehow she got her chin between the taut loop and her throat. Her eyes never left Kin's.

"Give me the screwdriver out of the jockey box," said Kin hoarsely, trying to hold her body still with one arm, attempting to draw the noose tight with his other hand.

"Phillips or the other one?" said Jeffie, rummaging.

"Don't matter. Just a screwdriver."

"Here you go." Jeffie passed the steel tool over the seat. He winced as either Kin or the girl kicked the backrest. Kin put the screwdriver shaft between the loop of pantyhose and the nape of the girl's neck, and began to twist. The nylon stretched, then tautened. The noose crept along the point of the girl's chin, then snapped free, digging into the flesh of her throat.

"That's it," said Kin.

And it was.

The girl's eyes never did close, so Kin finally had to twist her head around so that she looked accusingly out at the neon night.

"We gotta dump her," said Jeffie.

It was like Kin didn't hear him. "I'm hungry now," he said. "I feel good and I'm hungry."

"We got to -- "

"I heard you, buddy. We'll do it. But I want a burger. I'm starvin'."

"Guess it'll have to be a drive-up."

"Guess so," Kin agreed.

The old Chevy ghosted through the dark.

"I'm hungry too," Jeffie finally said.

"Yeah," said Kin. "Let's just do some burgers."

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Ed Bryant

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